I call them the Comeback Kittens because they came back from the brink. All four suffered a series of health crises that could have ended their lives, but all survived and they’re now doing well in their respective new homes.
The group of four were actually half of a litter of eight. There were four bigger, more robust tabbies that went to another foster parent (we took the four scrawny ones, as we had more experience with sick kittens). The mother had abandoned this group (not surprising really – a young, inexperienced mother with a huge litter of sick offspring that she couldn’t care for effectively). Fortunately, the feral mom left her litter on the property of a man who brought them in to the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA).
We brought the group home and set them up in a large kitten cage (we typically start our new arrivals in a big cage so that we can keep an eye on food intake, health issues, and litter box habits). This group were a ratty looking bunch with scraggly fur and messy faces. We named the charismatic fluffy black kitten that climbed the bars on arrival Batcat. The three girls, a gray and white, a white with faint Siamese point markings, and a Siamese with tabby points, were all given names associated with snow in various languages: Firn, Neve, and Shiya.
They were a sweet, loving group, but very weak. A couple of them played listlessly for a few moments here and there but for the most part, when we let them out of the cage they just sat near us looking sad and waiting to be picked up.
All four kittens wanted to be held constantly. Kittens are often affectionate right from the start, but they normally want to play before they snuggle. These guys just didn’t have the energy. However, despite being weak, they were ravenously hungry, which suggested a severe parasite infestation.
It took a while to get the diagnosis (they were suffering from both tapeworms and coccidia). While we awaited the results of the lab tests, Batcat gave up eating at one point and had to have fluids injected and be syringe fed every few hours, and all four kittens suffered from such severe diarrhea that they were covered in poop all the time and needed to be bathed several times each day. We started having kitten cleaning parties, with various friends coming over to help with washing and drying (kittens can become dangerously chilled after a bath, so they need to be dried and warmed thoroughly afterward).
The kittens were becoming quite dehydrated and increasingly weak from the diarrhea, even though they were eating and drinking a lot and we were adding water to their food. Kittens can go downhill very fast due to a variety of health issues. Fortunately, once we had the diagnosis, they were prescribed medications that sorted the problems out within 48 hours, and the group were soon on the mend, though it took a while for their systems to completely stabilize after becoming so run down and malnourished.
As they grew healthier, their fur thickened, their eyes brightened, and they were able to clean themselves properly. Instead of four mucky, ratty little cats, we had four gorgeous kittens.
Batcat looked like a Norwegian Forest cat with his beautiful ruff. He was a bold, confident kitten who seemed to double in size each day. Neve was a little white cloud of a cat with a gray tale, ice blue eyes, and a sweet, tolerant temperament. She and Batcat were adopted together.
Firn was a pretty little bicolor girl with enormous green eyes who loved to be cuddled for hours on end. She’d been so weak that we hadn’t initially seen much of her personality, but she turned out to be surprisingly feisty, though not at all aggressive. She was adopted as a companion to a gentle giant, a Maine Coon cat named Tesla.
Shiya stayed with us the longest because she had been the weakest and we wanted to make sure that her health was good before she went to a new home. She was also quite timid and anxious, and I wanted to build her confidence before she had to deal with a new environment. She was adopted with another VOKRA kitten into a household where one of her human companions works at home full time and there is a little girl who will play with her regularly, so she’ll receive plenty of attention, and she has bonded nicely with her new human friends. She’s still a little hissy with the other kitten that was adopted into the household shortly before her, but kittens are more socially flexible than adult cats, so it’s likely that the two will become friends in the future.